This factsheet was last updated in July 2012.
What is employee engagement?
Employers want employees who will do their best work or ‘go the extra mile’. Employees want jobs that are worthwhile and that inspire them. More and more organisations are looking for a win-win solution that meets their needs and those of their employees. What they increasingly say they are looking for is an engaged workforce.
So what is employee engagement? It can be seen as a combination of commitment to the organisation and its values and a willingness to help out colleagues (organisational citizenship). It goes beyond job satisfaction and is not simply motivation. Engagement is something the employee has to offer: it cannot be ‘required’ as part of the employment contract.
Our report Creating an engaged workforce considers some of the organisational issues that contribute to - or inhibit - employee engagement in different organisational settings.
Why organisations are interested in employee engagement
Employers want engaged employees because they deliver improved business performance. CIPD research has repeatedly demonstrated the links between the way people are managed, employee attitudes and business performance:
When employers deliver on their commitments (when by their actions they fulfil employees’ expectations) they reinforce employees’ sense of fairness and trust in the organisation and generate a positive psychological contract between employer and employee. See our factsheet on that topic.
The high performance or ‘black box’ model produced by Bath University builds on the psychological contract but emphasises the role of line managers in creating conditions under which employees will offer ‘discretionary behaviour’. The model recognises that employees have choices and can decide what level of engagement to offer the employer.
Organisations increasingly recognise the importance of their ‘brand’. Engaged employees will help promote the brand and protect the employer from the risks associated with poor service levels or product quality. Similarly a strong employer brand will help in attracting and retaining employees.
Login or register for a free account to continue reading this factsheet and to learn about:
- how to build an engaged workforce
- the engagement levels of British employees
- the outcomes of engagement
- the CIPD viewpoint
- references and further reading.